Composer
BRAHMS
Title
Variations on St Anthony Chorale
Instrumentation
c flute, piccolo, piano
Transcriber
Kyril Magg
Publisher
Leaf Publishing
Grade
3
Product Code
05M3000002F1

Variations on St. Anthony Chorale Op.56 composed by Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Transcribed by Kyril Magg for two flutes (C flute and Piccolo) and Piano
Includes score and parts
Eight variations

"Brahms was first introduced to the Chorale St. Antoni from a set of six Divertimenti for Winds (attributed to Haydn) in 1870.  He was so impressed by thi smusic that he copied it into a collection of music which he was assembling for future use.  In the summer of 1873, he finished what he called his "immensely difficult piano variations," the Variations for Two Pianofortes on a Theme of Haydn, opus 56b, using the unaltered chorale as its theme.  On August 20, he played through this piece for the first time with Clara Schumann.  Immediately thereafter, he began work on a parallel setting of the same composition for orchestra, opus 56a, which he completed in time to conduct the premier on November 2 at the opening concert of the Vienna Philharmonic season.  He had already submitted the two-piano score of the "Haydn" Variations to his publisher Simrock in September, but delayed publishing the orchestral version until after his October rehearsals in Vienna. 

Opus 56a is the first set of stand-alone variations ever composed for orchestra.  Written in the same summer as his first two string quartets, it marks Brahms' shift away from the influence of Schumann toward that of Beethoven.  Donald McCorkle justifiably called it a "phenomenal artistic amalgam of Baroque, Classical and Romantic formal and stylistic components," yet it can be richly appreciated on any level of sophistication..  Hns Gal observed that "the theme is a self-contained structure; each variation develops from it as a finished, independently fashioned character piece, so that the series of variations, based on a five-measure basso ostinato motivically derived from the beginning of the chorale theme and continuously developed in Baroque passacaglie style." -Preface

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